Burney v The London Mews Company Ltd: CA 7 May 2003

The defendant sought to appeal judgment against him for his estate agent’s commission. They had been appointed sole agents. A second firm obtained the particulars for their own retained clients, but then copied the particulars onto their own letterhead and advertised the property generally, finding the buyer. That buyer refused to buy through the second agents and approached the appellant direct. The appellant sold the house to the buyer telling the agent the house was withdrawn.
Held: Whilst a prudent draftsman would have put the point beyond doubt by making an express provision on the issue commission was payable because a purchaser was introduced ‘by another agent during that period’ within the terms of the relevant clause. ‘It would, as it seems to me, drive a coach and horses through the agreements which all estate agents make with vendors, if the mere fact that a would be purchaser. Who picked up the particulars from an estate agent’s desk, but carried out all the necessary bargaining thereafter, had the effect and of depriving the estate agent of their commission. . . What Kaye and Co did was to utilise the particulars. The effect of utilising the particulars was to introduce a purchaser — the very thing which the vendor hoped would happen by virtue of his employment of London Mews. London Mews did nothing wrong. They are not relying on something that they were not entitled to do, and in my view, the judge was right in the conclusion he came to that on the facts of this case, London Mews introduced Mr Cullinane to the transaction by use of their particulars, and I would uphold the judgment on that ground.
Waller LJ, Kay LJ, Lindsay J
[2003] EWCA Civ 766
England and Wales
CitedMcCann v Pow CA 1975
The estate agents, McCann, claimed a commission, earned as they alleged in their particulars of claim through the activities of persons they described as their ‘subagents’, a firm called Douglas and Co. They had taken a number of steps: they had . .
CitedWood (John D) and Co v Dantata; Beauchamp Estates v Dantata CA 1987
The purchaser liked inspecting houses and the vendor had appointed ten firms to act for him as estate agents. Each of the estate agents was approached by this purchaser and each of the estate agents took the would be purchaser over the property of . .
CitedPeter Yates v Bullock 1992
Whether an introduction of a purchaser by an estate agent to the vendor was the ‘effective cause’ of the transaction which ultimately takes place must be resolved by an examination of the facts as a whole. . .
CitedNahum v Royal Holloway and Bedford New College CA 12-Nov-1998
An estate agent was entitled to his commission when he could show that it was he who had brought about the relationship of buyer and seller. Delay and actions of others intended to hide that causation did not defeat the claim. The defendant asked . .

Cited by:
CitedFoxtons Ltd v Pelkey Bicknell and Another CA 23-Apr-2008
The defendant appealed against a finding that she was liable to pay her estate agent, appointed as sole agent, on the sale of her property. The eventual purchasers had visited but rejected the property. The agency was later terminated, and the . .
CitedGlentree Estates Ltd and Others v Favermead Ltd ChD 20-May-2010
The claimant estate agents claimed commission on property sales. The defendant said that the agreement to pay commission had been waived.
Held: The sale triggered the commission. However the later agreement did work to vary the original . .

These lists may be incomplete.
Updated: 16 February 2021; Ref: scu.183384